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Post Office Plaza Redevelopment Planning 

Overview

The following provides an overview and chronology of the redevelopment planning effort for Post Office Plaza.  It also provides links to related documents, presentations and videos. Please send your comments and questions to postofficeplaza@chathamborough.org

In November of 2016, the Borough of Chatham began a process to identify and designate an area in and around Post Office Plaza as an Area in Need of Redevelopment in accordance with the Local Redevelopment and Housing Law. 

The objective of the Post Office Plaza Redevelopment Investigation and Planning Study was to enable the Borough to plan for the future development of Post Office Plaza so that it is integrated, both physically and socially, into the downtown area with new retail and residential uses.

New Jersey’s Local Redevelopment and Housing Law empowers local governments to initiate a process by which designated properties that meet certain criteria can be transformed to advance the public interest.  Once an area is designated “in need of redevelopment,” a municipality may adopt a redevelopment plan and employ several planning and financial tools to make redevelopment projects more feasible.

The Preliminary Investigation

A Preliminary Investigation Report was prepared for the Chatham Borough Planning Board to determine whether the Post Office Plaza Study Area does or does not qualify as a Non-condemnation Area in Need of Redevelopment under the criteria set forth in the Local Redevelopment and Housing Law.

The Study Area includes 14 properties situated in the B-3 General Business District, the B-4 Community Business District and the AFD-4 Affordable Housing District.

The Post Office Plaza Preliminary Investigation Report, dated April 5, 2017 contains an in-depth review and evaluation of each of the 14 lots that comprise the 5.5 acre Study Area. 

On June 15, 2017, a Community Visioning Workshop was held to get input from the community on what the redeveloped area should look like. The June 15th presentation and video can be viewed here:  

June 15, 2017 Community Visioning Workshop | Video

June 15, 2017 Post Office Plaza Community Meeting | Presentation 

Also, during the community's visioning process, three online surveys were made available to obtain the public's feedback on building design preferences and retail business preferences in the downtown, as well as housing choices.

 

                         
Post Office Plaza (looking north)

 


 

 





 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In September 2017, the Borough Council determined that there should be another review of the Area in Need of Redevelopment designation due to the perception of possible conflicts of interest regarding deliberations concerning the April 5th Preliminary Investigation Report. Resolution #17-288, adopted by the Borough Council on September 25, 2017, directed the Planning Board to revisit the study area.

On January 17, 2018 the revisited study area report, Preliminary Investigation Report dated January 4, 2018 was presented to the Planning Board. The Planning Board discussed the report and a public hearing was held, offering an opportunity for public comments. The Planning Board adopted a resolution recommending that 13 of the 14 lots in the study area be designated as an Area in Need of Redevelopment.

In February 2018 the Borough Council adopted a resolution designating the same 13 lots as a Non-Condemnation Area in Need of Redevelopment.   In March 2018 the Borough issued a Request for Qualifications to identify qualified redevelopers. 

Following several months of public outreach and review of the responses to the Request for Qualifications, the Borough issued a Request for Proposal to understand the market expectations for the redevelopment area.  Using this feedback, Topology developed a draft Redevelopment Plan.  [Post Office Plaza Redevelopment Request for Qualifications].

On March 20, 2019, Topology presented the draft Redevelopment Plan to the Planning Board and the Mayor and Council in a joint meeting (video).  
 

Post Office Plaza Investigation and Planning Timeline

November 14, 2016

Phil Abramson and Annie Hindenlang, licenced planners with the professional planning firm Topology, were retained by the Mayor and Council to begin the process to identify and designate whether the area in and around Post Office Plaza is an Area in Need of Redevelopment. [Resolution #16-316]

January 23, 2017   [Step 1 of 7. See The Local Redevelopment and Housing Law ]

The Borough Council adopted Resolution #17-093 directing the Planning Board to conduct preliminary investigations to determine whether the Post Office Plaza study area designated as Block 121, Lots 10-14 and 17, and Block 122, Lots 1-2 and 13-18 (the “study area”) does or does not qualify as a non-condemnation  Area in Need of Redevelopment under the criteria set forth in the Redevelopment Law [N.J.S.A. 40A:12A-5]. Resolution #17-093 was subsequently revised and replaced by adoption of Resolution #17-140 on March 13, 2017.

March 22, 2017   [Step 2]

Topology submitted a report of its investigations of the study area entitled, “Preliminary Investigation Post Office Plaza Chatham New Jersey,” dated March 22, 2017 (the “Redevelopment Investigation Report”) authorized by the Planning Board.

April 5, 2017   [Step 3]

At its April 5, 2017 meeting, the Planning Board conducted a public hearing on the March 22nd Preliminary Investigation Report. The investigation report concluded that the study area, with the exception of Block 121, Lot 14, conforms with various redevelopment criteria under Section 5 of the Redevelopment Law [N.J.S.A. 40 A:12A-5].

April 19, 2017   [Step 3]

At its April 19, 2017 meeting, the Planning Board adopted a Memorializing Resolution based on Mr. Abramson’s testimony and presentation of the Redevelopment Investigation Report and the comments from the public, which accepted the findings of the Redevelopment Investigation Report that Block 121, Lots 10, 11, 12, 13 and 17, and Block 122, Lots 1, 2, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17 and 18 (the “Revised Study Area”) meet the criteria for designation as a non-condemnation Area in Need of Redevelopment under the Redevelopment Law.  Block 121, Lot 14 was omitted.

May 9, 2017

Mr. Phil Abramson presented the revised Post Office Plaza Preliminary Investigation Report, dated April 5, 2017 to the Mayor and Council.

The video of Mr. Abramson’s presentation to the Mayor and Council on May 9, 2017 can be viewed here.

May 22, 2017   [Step 4]

The Borough Council adopted Resolution #17-188, which accepted the conclusions of the Post Office Plaza Preliminary Investigation Report, dated April 5, 2017 and the Planning Board’s recommendation to designate the Post Office Plaza Study Area as a non-condemnation “Area in Need of Redevelopment” pursuant to the Local Redevelopment and Housing Law.

June 15, 2017   [Step 5]

Public Outreach Session #1.  A Community Visioning Meeting was held at the Chatham Middle School Gymnasium. A video of the June 15th Community Visioning Meeting can be viewed here. Mr. Abramson summarized the redevelopment process and shared the initial findings and existing conditions of the redevelopment study area in an informative  presentation. Following Mr. Abramson’s presentation, an interactive workshop was convened, providing an opportunity for residents to provide their input and complete surveys on what they would see to in the downtown.

Survey 1:   Building design preferences for downtown Chatham

Survey 2:   Housing

Survey 3:   Retail business preferences for downtown Chatham

Topology gathered responses to the surveys and residents’ comments provided at the Community Visioning Meeting into a report presented to the Mayor and Council in September. Residents who missed the Community Visioning Meeting, or had additional thoughts, contacted postofficeplaza@chathamborough.org

July 15, 2017   [Step 5]

Representatives of Topology were at the Chatham Borough Farmers’ Market to answer questions about the Post Office Plaza Redevelopment.

September 25, 2017

Special Redevelopment Counsel advises the Governing Body that it would be prudent, and in the best interest of the public interest, to rescind all previous actions concerning the Preliminary Investigation and determination of the Area in Need of Redevelopment, due to a potential conflict of interest with respect to the Post Office Plaza redevelopment project.  By Resolution #17-287, the Governing Body rescinds Resolution #17-093, Resolution #17-140 and Resolution #17-188.  

Resolution #17-288, adopted on September 25, 2017 authorizes the Planning Board to undertake a Preiminary Investigation to determine if certain properties are areas in need of redevelopment.

October 18, 2017

The Planning Board retained Topology to prepare the Preliminary Investigation to determine if property within the Study Area continues to meet the criteria for Area in Need of Redevelopment.

January 17, 2018

Upon conducting a public hearing regarding the Preliminary Investigation of property within the Study Area, the Planning Board concluded that 14 properties within the Study Area [Block 121, Lots 10, 11, 12, 13 and 17, and Block 122, Lots 1, 2, and 13, 14, 15, 16, 17 and 18 met the criteria for a redevelopment area designation (non-condemnation redevelopment area)].  

February 2018

Topology conducted meetings with property and business owners in the redevelopment area, adjoining property owners, downtown property and business owners and other stakeholders.

February 12, 2018

The Governing Body adopts Resolution #18-102 designating 13 properties within the Study Area [Block 122, Lot 14 was omitted] as a non-condemnation Area in Need of Redevelopment.

  March 20, 2018

Ms. Hindenlang provided a public presentation on Post Office Plaza redevelopment planning, which included the presentation of public outreach findings and a review of the draft Redevelopment Area RFQ. 

March 2018 - January 2019

Topology conducts four additional public outreach session and helps the borough issue an Request for Proposal (RFP) to understand market expectations for the redevelopment area. Using this feedback, Topology develops a Draft Redevelopment Plan. 

February 2019

Topology submits and revises draft Redevelopment Plan to the borough. [Link to Draft Redevelopment Plan]

March 20, 2019

Topology presented the Draft Redevelopment Plan to the borough.

April 8, 2019

First reading of ordinance to adopt Redevelopment Plan. 

April 17, 2019

Master Plan consistency review at Planning Board meeting. 

April 22, 2019

Second reading and adoption of Redevelopment Plan ordinance. 

Plans - Reports

 

Future Steps 

After the Redevelopment Plan is adopted, the Borough Council will designate a redeveloper and then negotiate a Redevelopment Agreement with the selected redeveloper.  During this phase the redeveloper will conduct traffic and other impact studies.  Once the Redevelopment Agreement is finalized, the redeveloper will present a site plan to the Planning Board for final approval.  Upon obtaining that approval and the necessary construction permits, the redeveloper will begin construction.